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Pastas - Different quality?

Excellent pasta. Buonitalia carries lots of its shapes, often in larger, 1kg packages.

Jun 29, 2015
bob96 in General Topics

Fresh Moz, $10/lb> in N.J., Does that sound right?

The Costco mozzarella from Lioni is not vacuum sealed, but sold wrapped in plastic and use-by dated. Having grown up with Brooklyn mozzarella, it's a decent version. Even if I were a fan of mozzarella di bufala, I'd be suspicious pif buying the products made in Caserta or Salerno and flown in--they degrade much too quickly, and handling during transport can often be dicey. For what it's worth, some of the fresh mozzarella and ricotta I've had at some, of NY's farmers markets have been very poorly made, and overpriced. But things may be getting better. The optimal source is usually an Italian-American latticini or deli of reasonable size and turnover, tho there's never any guarantee. Calabro's ricotta, made in West Haven, CT, and fairly well distributed nationally, is an excellent product that recalls the local versions of my youth.

Jun 26, 2015
bob96 in General Topics

Pastas - Different quality?

Taste (of wheat) and texture (rough to hold sauce, sturdy to cook evenly, mouthfeel) are variables that count for a lot of the difference.

Jun 25, 2015
bob96 in General Topics

Pastas - Different quality?

DeCecco has been and still is, I think, the quality-price leader in the US. All of its pasta is made in Fara San Martino, Italy. There are other mid-range brands like Del Verde, Rummo, Rustichella d'Abruzzo, and Martini, many from near Naples or the historic pasta-making center of Gragnano that can be excellent values, too. In Miami, I was lucky to run across a very attractively priced ziti-like pasta from Gentile (of Gragnano) made from the Senatore Cappelli strain of durum wheat, all Italian. Rich and delicious. Not tried the extra high end Martelli or similar very small batch brands. There is a difference.

Jun 24, 2015
bob96 in General Topics

Fresh Moz, $10/lb> in N.J., Does that sound right?

Costco here in NC sells decent fresh mozzarella made by Brooklyn's Lioni for about $5/lb; Ive never elsewhere paid more than $8/9 lb for fresh, locally made.

Jun 22, 2015
bob96 in General Topics

The Etiquette of Bringing Your Own Meal on a Plane

Why is this even an issue, given the lack of any sustenance available on most domestic flights? Of course, be considerate of your seat mates. But short of bringing on board a bowl of tripe or vindaloo, anything goes. I grand what I can in the airport before boarding, but we've brought on board sandwiches and fruit, too.

Jun 20, 2015
bob96 in Food Media & News
2

Biodynamics makes you ‘more human’

What pretentious nonsense.

Jun 20, 2015
bob96 in Wine
1

Is a hot dog a sandwich?

I think you're looking for an answer to a question no one's asking.

Jun 20, 2015
bob96 in General Topics

Under-appreciated and/or up-and-coming grape varieties?

Loved Negrette in a Cotes du Frontonnais I used to get from Astor in NY.

Jun 13, 2015
bob96 in Wine

Under-appreciated and/or up-and-coming grape varieties?

Tannat and Cabernet Franc are staples, of course, but perhaps under appreciated outside the Loire, Madiran, and Uruguay. Not sure Viognier is anything but fashionable, though I am not a fan of its flavors. Im also partisan, so I'll vote for Gaglioppo and Mantonico(a) from Calabria, and from Campania and Basilicata both, Aglianico, deserving of greater popularity at all price levels. I hope for good new things for Agiorgitiko, too.

Jun 13, 2015
bob96 in Wine

Food pairing for this red blend wine?

Sans tomato sauce, yes--you'd want more acid, which many of these blends lack (and from your tasting notes this one would as well). Mushrooms of any kind and prep would be a nice match, with polenta or in a risotto, maybe with peas. A mushroom potato onion gratin would be nice, too.

May 27, 2015
bob96 in Wine

Seeking tiny producer olive oil and/or cheese that's worth traveling for just to bring home a bottle or wheel

One catch: Piemonte (like Valle d'Aosta) produces no olive oil, or at the very least none that is available commercially. But Liguria and its taggiasca is not very far.

May 24, 2015
bob96 in Italy

Alton Brown....

double ditto

May 21, 2015
bob96 in Food Media & News

Why Does New York Have The Best Bagels? Not the Water, the 2-Day Proofing.

Also a tradition of hand working and a consumer memory, however faint, of what traditional 8-to-the-pound bagels tasted like: dense, not sweet, strong.

May 21, 2015
bob96 in Food Media & News

Seeking tiny producer olive oil and/or cheese that's worth traveling for just to bring home a bottle or wheel

That leaves pretty much only Tuscany for the oil/cheese combo---Pisa is a 3hr drive from Milan. Others on this board surely have recommendations for a small frantoio; and a lot of pecorino, which is what I'd go for in Tuscany, is not exported at all. You might not find them in the same place, tho. Happy trails.

May 21, 2015
bob96 in Italy

Anyone else hate the new Saveur makeover, or is it just me?

Was a lover of Saveur from issue one--and regularly revisited issues (fondly remember the gloriously evocative take on San Francisco North Beach's "old stoves" Italian cooks, and many others). Always something to learn from and treasure. Now, like them all, it's celebrities, lists, blips, and boxes and the insufferably hectoring and empty "what we're [eating, drinking now" meme.

Bakery for Tuscan Bread for Panzanella

Just a testimony to the disappearance of Italian bakeries in Manhattan--though good pane di casa is still there to be found.

May 01, 2015
bob96 in Manhattan

Bakery for Tuscan Bread for Panzanella

Might try Parisi Bakery, 290 Elizabeth St. Or Agata and Valentina on University Place.

May 01, 2015
bob96 in Manhattan

Wine pairing herby pork?

The coriander and mint touch traditional Portuguese flavor notes--in that, I'd suggest a Portuguese red--from Douro or Alentejo for warm fruit, moderate tannin and alcohol, and just enough acid.

May 01, 2015
bob96 in Wine

ISO Agropoli and nearby town food recs

Nonna Sceppa in nearby Capaccio.https://www.facebook.com/nonnasceppa?...

Apr 14, 2015
bob96 in Italy

Is riccota insalata ideal for cannolis?

No. It's "ricotta salata", btw, and made for table cheese or in its very dried form, grating. You might as some have suggested want to add a little fresh goat cheese to add flavor to the usually bland commercial ricotta--which should be drained in any case.

Apr 14, 2015
bob96 in Home Cooking
1

Spreadable Sausage

'Nduja in Calabria is meant to be very spicy and hot; it's also not made with prosciutto or speck, but with fresh pork, and cured. It's used there as a condiment, in relatively small portions.

Apr 14, 2015
bob96 in General Topics

food tv show called the kitchen?

Forced, fake, unwatchable.

Apr 14, 2015
bob96 in Food Media & News

Anything good near Hotel Wales on UES?

There's an El Paso (recommended) closer on 97th between Park and Madison. Also, Luzzo's pizza on 96th between Park and Lex is great for thin crust "Neapolitan" slices--fresh and light. Paola's is a dud; Pascalou and Le Paris across Madison are pleasant old-line bistros with nice prix-fixes.

Apr 06, 2015
bob96 in Manhattan

Anything good near Hotel Wales on UES?

There's an El Paso (recommended) closer on 97th between Park and Madison. Also, Luzzo's pizza on 96th between Park and Lex is great for thin crust "Neapolitan" slices--fresh and light. Paola's is a dud; Pascalou and Le Paris across Madison are pleasant old-line bistros with nice prix-fixes. Not to forget Papaya King for franks and only in NY fruit drinks on 86th and Third.

Apr 06, 2015
bob96 in Manhattan

Dinner with a side of self-righteousness

Well said, and completely agree.

Mar 31, 2015
bob96 in Food Media & News

Dinner with a side of self-righteousness

Bittman has been moved into a position of significant authority and visibility at the Times, so he ends up as an oracle, for better or worse. What's wrong with calling out Pollan, Waters and whomever for not acknowledging their own positions of privilege--or for dealing with the economic, class, and cultural dimensions of the food ways they stand for. Especially when they are proposing life changes that so many people simply cannot make, however sensible or desirable. Their having privilege is not the issue--we all play on levels of privilege; it's that they pretend to speak for and to a society at large they seem not to understand. There are food writers (like John Thorne, for one) who go deeply and revealingly into the mysterious and joys of food who still manage to conveyor a sense of themselves situated in a specific world that might not be ours. Pollan and Waters write as if we are all Berkeley professionals. Or should be. Both would be more effective if they'd reflect even for a little on the limits of (and alternatives to) privilege. I agree about championing other voices: but Pollan and Bittman and Barber and others like them so dominate the popular discourse that they sometimes seem to define it all.

Mar 31, 2015
bob96 in Food Media & News
1

Dinner with a side of self-righteousness

It's not about "elite", since by definition those who find a way to write regularly about food (or foreign places) are by definition in a small, if changing, and frankly privileged minority. Bless 'em. But all critics offer opinions that are, or should be, subject to dispute. One blind spot in this group is an almost complete lack of self-awareness about their position, about the realities of changing a life, and perhaps most of all of limits the real world places on everyone. It's hilarious, for example, that one as well-traveled as Bittman should be so gobsmacked by the abundance of gorgeous produce in the Bay Area it's always been there, thanks to the work across generations of local Asian, Armenian, Latino, Italian, and other truck farmers and producers, and sources like the Berkeley Bowl's historic counterpart Monterey Market, started by a Japanese-American family many years ago. No big deal. Or when Waters or Pollan wonder why all folks just can't find a way to spend just a bit more money on better food, when it's so often not even about the raw materials: many, even if they were given heirloom products for free, don't even have the time or physical resources to do this kind of scratch cooking at home, even if many would love to, struggling with multiple jobs, kids underfoot, family obligations. Not everyone can stroll the Berkeley Hills at mid-day, foraging. You can applaud the general good that people like Pollan and Bittman have done--and they're certainly not alone-- but the difference between can and should is really more than a minor normative whistle. They can also sound like the hectoring consumerists of yore, for whom there's always a better (more distinctive, valuable, authentic, expensive) version of just about everything anyone else is buying, wearing, eating, drinking, or driving. The categories pif value change; the need to use them in defining mine vs yours, or ours vs theirs, does not, alas. Realize it or not, the Bittmans, Pollans, and others in this choir loft are singing not just of simple natural graces--but about a kind of moral and even religious conversion. Lots of us--who, by the way, should bear no responsibility to be food writers just in order to be able to criticize one--can see the distinction. We'll take their good news as we find it, but I for one always leave before the homily.

How can I slice crusty bread without making such a mess?

Get a good serrated knife; it works wonders.

Mar 27, 2015
bob96 in General Topics

Anyone else hate the new Saveur makeover, or is it just me?

They used to have writers and journalists opening new worlds of food to us all. Now they have stylists.

Mar 27, 2015
bob96 in Food Media & News
1